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above: Paul Chiappe, Untitled 6, 2007 Pencil on paper, 5 x 2.5cm (note how he included Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy in the above image)
I came across Paul Chiappe's unusual and frankly, astonishing, work while reading this wonderful 5 part series of 100 artists to watch at ArtInfo.
above: Untitled 48, 2010 Pencil on paper 3.6 x 3.4cm
above: Untitled 44, 2010 Pencil on paper 2.5 x 2cm
At first I thought they were slightly out of focus, vintage family and yearbook photos and then I realized I was looking at miniature masterpieces using mainly pencil (some are done using paint which is then airbrushed).
above: Untitled 46, 2010 Pencil on paper 3.4 x 3.4cm
above: Untitled 49, Paul Chiappe 2011. Pencil on Paper. 4 x 6 cm
A little Sally Mann-meets-Diane Arbus (two of my favorite photographers), Paul's drawings are simultaneously haunting and nostalgic. And small. Scarcely larger than 5cm in width, the 27 year old Scottish artist's images replicate elementary school photos, yearbook photos and what look like posed family photos - not unlike with what my own childhood albums are filled.
above: Untitled 34, 2008 Pencil on paper 3.8 x 2.4cm
above: Yearbook 1 drawings (grouping)
above: four separate images from his Yearbook 1 series
The subjects are dressed and styled in clothing from bygone eras, ranging from the Victorian period to the 1970s, with blurred and distressed faces and surroundings. The pieces are so small that sometimes a subject's face is no more than 2mm in size. It requires a magnifying glass to truly see the details.
above: A Crow Left of the Murder, 2007 Pencil on paper
above: A Crow Left of the Murder (detail), 2007 Pencil on paper
above: Untitled 29, 2008 Pencil on paper 3.4 x 5cm
above: Untitled 2, 2005 Pencil on paper 7 x 5cm
As quoted in an article by Jessica Satherly from the UK's Daily Mail, Paul, who presently works and lives in Edinburgh, says ‘I enjoy trawling through old nostalgic photographs, wherever I come across them.
above: Untitled 8, 2007 Pencil on paper 5 x 3cm
‘I find it particularly interesting looking at people in old photographs and appreciating the differences and similarities, across different periods, cultures and personalities.
above: Untitled 47, Paul Chiappe 2010. Pencil on Paper. 3.3 x 5.35cm
‘My interest is captured by the naive charm and androgyny of the children in the images I use, who display obvious personalities.
above: Untitled 42, 2010 Pencil & Acrylic on paper 5.9 x 4.4cm
‘Using old photos allows me to play with the idea of memory more than a very current image would and works as a device to force people to cast their minds back.’
'The scale stems from an interest in miniatures, where there is an intimacy forged between the viewer and drawing,' adds the 27-year-old artist.
Paul continued: ‘The scale stems from an interest in miniatures, where there is an intimacy forged between the viewer and drawing.
‘I also like working on a small scale for technical reasons - it makes sense for me to produce small work because it wouldn't be practical to produce large works with the same level of detail.
‘Often people don't realise when looking at my drawings on a computer screen that sometimes the faces in the drawings are in fact as small as 2mm.
‘I am constantly experimenting with other mediums and surfaces. I have drawn with pencil since primary school.
‘I remember even in primary school meticulously copying images for art class.
'I would end up drawing dolphins and things from wildlife books.
‘Basically, anything I would draw I'd make sure it was as realistic as possible.
‘I feel comfortable using this medium and enjoy the control pencil affords me.
‘I also like the fact that complex images can be produced using such a rudimentary medium.
‘I've always done quite realistic drawings.’
Images and info from the artist and the Daily Mail.
137 Whitecross Street & Playhouse Yard, London, EH1Y 8JL
+44(0)20 7490 3667